I saw a film last week which, by the time you read this, will be available for viewing on your internet-connected device. I saw it because Joe Morgenstern—the film critic of the Wall Street Journal—said that it was simply good and you ought to see it. He went on to say more, but that actually is enough.
Nonetheless, let me say more.
“Minari” is about a family of Korean immigrants in rural Arkansas in the 1980s. They have gone there with the idea, after a decade in California, of producing Korean vegetables that, the husband thinks, would sell well in cities with increasing Korean populations. Dallas, I regret to say, does not come off well in this plot, by comparison with Oklahoma City. But finally, the father/farmer is able to connect with someone who will buy his farm’s remarkable crops.
So it is hopeful. There are a lot of strange people in the film—a speaking-in-tongues farmhand who spends his Sundays carrying a heavy cross down the county road. Think of the heaviest cross you’ve ever seen carried in the Good Friday liturgy and imagine it being carried by one guy for miles every week. Drivers wave at him, then out of his sight, laugh. He probably knows they are laughing. And there’s a father of a boy at the church who is out carousing all night, leaving his son alone. There’s a lot of human messiness.
But there is no meanness, no deliberate cruelty. It is amazing.
There is also a lot of natural trouble: getting water is a problem that runs through the film, and there are tornados and fires and snakes. The little boy of the family has a problematic heart. There is marital strain. There is the feebleness of an elderly grandmother.
But, to repeat, no malice.
I’m glad I saw “Minari” and whole-heartedly recommend it to you. As you will have noticed, it is not a contemporary film that erases Christianity, yet neither is it less than artistically true.
It provokes for me a more general observation.
We could get rid of malice, yet life would still have its hardships. Tornados are natural events, for instance, and viruses are natural things. And it is part of the goodness of viruses that they work as they do. Hardship in life is not a mistake that God made; the universe that contains us seems necessarily also to contain places that are inhospitable to us and beings whose flourishing is at our expense.
But even then—fathers can take their sons to a stream and marvel at how plants grow, and mothers and fathers and children and neighbors can gather to find the water that they need, and enjoy a communion that is a reflection in some way of the life of the blessed.
Out & About (virtually and otherwise). My class on Leviticus has two more weeks: Sundays, February 28 and March 7. It is at Incarnation in Dallas, both in-person and on Zoom, at 10:15 a.m. To get the Zoom link, register at https://incarnation.org/event/1936191-2021-02-28-up-with-leviticus/
Also this Sunday, February 28, I am to preach at the 4 p.m. patronal festival for St. David of Wales (whose feast is indeed March 1), Denton, Tex. (This service is planned for outdoors and is subject to there being appropriate weather conditions.)
On the Web. My sermon at Church of the Redeemer (Sarasota, Florida) can be listened to here (look for Feb. 7): https://www.redeemersarasota.org/sermons-and-video/ —and the print version can be found under “print sermons” for the same date.
I used to say bad things about Florida, but I have eaten my words. Gladly. On the other hand, there remain the snakes. . . .